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Farewell Miserable November December 2, 2011

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With the month of November in the rear-view mirror, the Sabres will be hoping Santa doesn’t have lumps of coal waiting for them in the bottoms of their stockings. Between the calamitous injury situation, the collective turtling in the face of the big bad Bruins and the simultaneous initiation of half-a-dozen rookies into the senior ranks, the Sabres actually didn’t do too badly, finishing 7-6-1 (15 out of a possible 28 points). Yes I know, my glass of Blue Light is half-full, but I do have a six-pack of PBR tallboys chilling in the fridge if things had been more miserable. Player A could have been out for the season, Player B could have broken more bones, Player C could have missed more games, etc etc (I am not naming names lest even more Sabres find their way onto the injury report). In fact, we could have gone 0-14-0 and where would we be then?!

So with that in mind, here are some things to look forward to in this festive month –

  • Ryan Miller will be back very soon. Hopefully refreshed from an early season break. And hopefully in a better frame of mind than the time he got injured when he was quite dreadful at times, no thanks to the vanishing act by the supporting cast in front of him.
  • Tyler Ennis gets to try again. ‘Enzo’ needs to be better during Take Two. In the first go-around of seven games prior to his injury, he looked nothing like his 2010-11 avatar that scored 49 points. It might help that Leino is settling in and has been playing better, but all signs point to Ennis getting first dibs on the line with Roy and Stafford as soon as he is back.
  • Tyler Myers continues his comeback. After a pretty rough start culminated in his benching for a game, Myers had a couple of solid efforts and it looked like he was back to form again. However, an innocuous-looking collision resulted in a broken bone and he has been sidelined until the middle of this month.
  • Thomas Vanek and team captain Jason Pominville have both been playing like elite wingers, and have combined to drag the Sabres out of their proclivity to slump to long losing streaks. We would love to see this pair keep scoring and lead from the front.
  • Zack Kassian is here. The fan-proclaimed future of the Sabres finally made his way up to the senior team, and promptly went about earning his keep as a physical forward with an eye for goal. If he can continue to combine his feisty approach with some timely scoring, the Sabres will be vindicated in spending the 13th overall pick on him in the 2009 Entry Draft.
  • Big Joe Finley getting a stint with the Sabres. I propose that the moniker ‘Big’ be permanently prefixed to Finley’s name – the 6’8″, 260lb behemoth is not only big, he plays big too, laying crushing hits and gleefully dropping the gloves. And in his spare time he tosses around lawnmowers and kitchen tables, and slashes team mascots too. Read all about him here.
  • The rise of Brayden McNabb. Another one of the big-bodies that is expected to form the new Sabres core, he has settled in very well, fighting for the puck in the corners, clearing the blue ice of foreign matter (and players) and distributing the puck effectively up the ice too.
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Sabres vs. Flyers Game 6 4/24/11 Postmortem April 24, 2011

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Let’s do this. I want to see a handshake.

Liked:

  • Gaustad gets things started early for the Sabres by bodyslamming Hartnell to the ice behind the Flyers net.
  • Niedermayer starts the scoring with one Leighton probably should’ve had.
  • Miller has made a couple of big saves early in the first period.
  • Cody McCormick draws a penalty and the Sabres make the Flyers pay as Vanek scores on the power play.
  • The Flyers penalty box is getting crowded. Amanda approves.
  • Heh. Vanek comes through with another one. It’s 3-1 Buffalo. There have been three Buffalo goals on seven Buffalo shots. Time for a new goaltender?
  • And what do mine eyes see? Why, it’s Boucher in net!

Didn’t like:

  • A total defensive breakdown leads to Philadelphia’s first goal.
  • Ryan Miller is beaten cleanly on the second goal.
  • Boooo. The Flyers tie it up.

Left for the in-laws with about ten minutes to go in the second period. Wasn’t able to watch it the way I watched the first half of the game, but based on the outcome, I think that’s okay with me. Sabres LOSE. On to Game Seven in a very hostile building. Good luck, boys.

Sabres vs. Flyers Game 4 4/20/11 Postmortem April 20, 2011

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Do or die? I’d say so. Let’s get this thing started!

Liked:

  • Kaleta makes his presence felt in his first shift.
  • The crowd sounds alive tonight.
  • The Sabres are really buzzing in the first three minutes. Make that five minutes…
  • I approve of Drew Stafford on the penalty kill.
  • Butler saves his goaltender’s bacon. Miller owes him a steak.
  • Pommer gets his first of the playoffs off a gorgeous pass from Niedermayer.
  • The Sabres are on the power play because Carcillo is a stupid hockey player.
  • Gerbe goes through three guys and still gets a shot off. Heh.
  • Tyler Myers makes an all-star play to prevent a goal. Miller’s going to be doling out steaks to the D with the way things are going.
  • Myers can’t BELIEVE he hit the post on that one, but Timonen takes a penalty hauling Grier down.
  • Apparently Myers is okay from his collision in the first period. Thanks, hockey gods!
  • Miller makes a big stop on Richards.
  • The Sabres are on the Flyers like white on rice here in the first 10 minutes of the second period. The line of Gaustad, Kaleta, and Boyes is the Flyers’ worst nightmare right now.
  • Vanek strips the puck quite neatly. hee hee hee
  • Kaleta out-muscled a guy behind the Flyers net like he was an annoying little gnat.
  • The Flyers take a too-many-men penalty in the waning moments of the second period. In obvious news, now would be a good time to take a two-goal lead.
  • Richards gets five minutes for elbowing. Amanda approves.

Didn’t like:

  • Weber gets called with a silly penalty. Borderline, but what can you do?
  • Stafford negates the power play with a holding penalty. Again, dubious.
  • Connolly lets his man go on the power play and the Flyers nearly score short-handed.
  • Ennis doesn’t look right. Neither does Leopold.
  • Boyes hits the second post of the period.
  • Myers takes a knee-on-knee hit from Carter and goes down like the giant he is. The building shook.
  • Wow. That was one of the worst five-minute power plays I’ve seen in my entire life.

On to game five!

Sabres vs. Flyers Game 2 4/16/11 Postmortem April 16, 2011

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I would love to see the Sabres win Game 2 but I fully expect the Flyers to come out, well, flying.

Liked:

  • Sekera just stripped the puck from Carcillo in a ruthlessly efficient play. Heh.
  • The Sabres strike back with Vanek.
  • Then Paul Gaustad puts Briere on the ground during the ensuing faceoff. Scott Hartnell challenges him to a fight, but I’m not sure you can call what happened next a “fight”. It was more like “Gaustad makes Hartnell look silly.”
  • Where was this Niedermayer all season long?
  • Yay! Vanek scores again. I think he’s got a sense of Brobowski now (someone asked Vanek if he had a “sense of Brobowski” after the first game – Bulldog mentioned that Vanek probably got a sense of him during the four regular season games in which they faced him).
  • Sekera puts Buffalo ahead for the first time in the game. Bobrowski’s night is over. Amanda approves.
  • Hartnell takes another stupid penalty.
  • Man, Vanek really wants a hat trick…
  • McCormick brings the Sabres to within one.

Didn’t like:

  • The building erupts as the Flyers score first.
  • Shortly after the Gaustad fight the Sabres have a brain freeze in their end and Carcillo *blech* scores.
  • Philly’s penalty box is getting mighty crowded. Amanda approves.
  • Oh, Miller. Seriously?
  • Gerbe gets an extra two minutes for humiliating Giroux.
  • The penalties are just getting out of control now. I think the refs are making stuff up.
  • The puck deflects off Briere’s skate and goes in. Boooo.
  • Well, I would’ve made more comments on the second period, but DD decided to be needy. ED NOTE: This needy behavior continues into the third.

I didn’t really expect the Sabres to win this game, but it sure would’ve been nice. On to Game 3.

Sabres vs. Lightning 4/5/11 Postmortem Guest Blog April 5, 2011

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Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. I just have NOT had time or opportunity to blog lately. Luckily my mother is on the ball, and so, I bring you her guest commentary on tonight’s game.

 

After tonight, two more games and then it’s the play-offs! Let’s see if we can win these last three and go into the play-offs in high gear!

Liked:

  • Enroth in goal again– Miller is starting to skate but it might still be a while. Maybe, too, Lindy is giving him more time to rest for the playoffs since Enroth is wiping the ice with opponents.
  • Sabres are all over the Lightning the first five minutes.  By halfway mark, the Lightning are starting to wake up so careful guys!
  • Congrats to Sabres sled hockey team who won the sled hockey championship this weekend.
  • Fantastic save by Enroth! Great move by Weber. He’s improving every game!
  • Two penalties by Tampa Bay—5 on 3. Let’s go boys. Yes! Goal by Pommer, there you go Amanda! Do you approve? (ED Note: I do approve!) Oops! Vanek tipped it.  1-1. Oh well…
  • Second goal by Vanek for tonight! He’s hot! Just in time for the playoffs I hope. Now Timmy scores and it’s clear the whole line is hot tonight! 3-1. Timmy alone has a goal and two assists.
  • Sabres handily neutralized the Lightning usually potent second period.
  • The second intermission Whip guys gave their opinions as to best surprises of season: Gerbe, Weber, and Enroth. Don’t know if I agree with that completely. I think I’d put Ennis in there too. He made a great play sliding on his stomach to clear the puck. Nice play by Gerbe too.
  • Vanek scores a hat trick on an open net to seal the victory! And the big-money players come through for the team tonight!
  • EXTRA Bonus! Sabres win eliminates Toronto from playoffs. Wahoo!

Didn’t like:

  • McCormick whiffed badly on a point-blank shot. Booo!
  • Lightning score first—Malone tipped it in. Sabres just stood there. 0-1.
  • In first period, Sabres have NO hits! TB has seven, Sabres moving and passing well though.
  • Second period—yawn……  until Weber and Malone decide to liven things up with a marathon fight. Fifty seconds long, a draw methinks. Last half second livened up. Thank goodness.
  • Sabres start the third period by giving up a goal by TB seconds into third period—Lecavalier. 3-2.
  • Sabres laying back too much in third period. When they do that, they get burned! Already charred by early third period goal.

And there you have it, folks: my mother’s impressions of the game.

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